We really enjoyed living in our little detached house on the outskirts of Nuremberg, but we also sensed that it was time for some major changes. “Don’t be too settled, but always be ready to set out on a new path.” This sentence from a prayer calendar kept me thinking and praying. On one hand, my husband and I both felt a desire to live in community with other people; on the other hand we were both aware that God was increasingly placing the needs of refugees on our hearts. The idea was born that we could combine both of these things by moving to a house that we could open for others. Could we risk following our hearts?
At about the same time, several members of the Nehemia Team started a Contact Café for refugees. They were willing to risk following their hearts and opening themselves to people from totally different cultures. When locals and strangers meet, friendship begins and those from foreign cultures begin to be integrated into the community. Eventually, my husband and I, together with a friend, bought a house with three separate apartments. We took two Kurdish asylum-seekers into one of these. One of them is an “unaccompanied, underage refugee.” In August this year, we also moved in. Six Syrians helped us move, including friends from the Contact Café. (see picture)
Since that time we’ve been building good relationships in the house and we are supporting the Kurds in whatever ways they need. H. wanted to study social work, but was unable to get a place at university. When he failed an exam and the job of being a caregiver for his nephew proved to be harder than expected, he fell into an emotional hole. He had no hope for his life in Germany, in spite of previously having completed teacher training in Syria. We invited him for a meal and offered to pray for him. Jesus knew his situation, even if we didn’t know what to do. He lived as a nominal Muslim when he was in Syria, but after experiencing the brutality of ISIS soldiers, he turned away from all religions.
A few days went by and I found out that a social worker/teacher was urgently needed for an emergency shelter for “unaccompanied minors”. Now H. is not a German-qualified social worker or teacher, but he knows the language and culture needed for this work. Four days later I went with him to the city authorities to sign his employment contract. After this he said, “Prayer can really change things.” Next Sunday he came with his brother, who also lives in Nuremberg, to church for the first time. The message was about prayer! When we asked our Kurdish friend that evening whether he enjoyed the meeting, K. remarked, “This was the best day I’ve had since I came to Germany; I experienced so much love.” It pays to take a risk with your heart!
Elke und Edgar Feld